Black Triangles, Yellow Corn, and Pink Medicine Drops
Poem on a Banner
Once In A Blue Moon A Decent Wolf Comes Along
Every Second of Every Minute of Every Hour
Christopher Garcia: drums/percussion, Jonathan Golove: electric cello, David Mott: baritone saxophone, Michael Vlatkovich: trombone/percussion
This disc is the product of a May 19, 2003 concert at the Outpost Performance Space in, you guessed it, Albuquerque. The hour long set represented on this recording is a wonderful collection of music played by a rather eclectic yet blended quartet. The instrumentation of percussion, baritone sax, electric cello, and trombone shows a clever amount of sonic unification as well as diversity. The performers aren’t afraid of the full range of their instruments (several times I thought Mr. Vlatkovich switched to trumpet) and they are able to carve out their own musical space when necessary. The electric cello doesn’t quite have the same edgy presence as the other instruments and that is used as an asset instead of a liability.
Each piece contains a playful sense of freedom and structure. From the first gesture of Black Triangles, Yellow Corn, and Pink Medicine Drops through the “oom pah pah” section to the freewheeling bari solo and then the punchy trombone/sax duet that gradually pulls everyone in, etc. and so on, there is a real Zappa-esque feeling throughout the disc. We go to unexpected places within a single track but each move, no matter how drastic, sounds right. The music seems to come from a place of serenity and organicism. I’ve known a number of people who respond this way to time in New Mexico and it seem the Michael Vlatkovich Quartet has fallen under the same spell.
The quartet has an excellent sense of pacing and silence. Gestures sit in space, the group breathes as a unit, and they have an excellent sound color. The opening of Blue Fragments has a spunky tune (almost cutesy) in muted trombone and electric cello while the bari sax riffs unencumbered. The opening lyrical solo by the bari sax in Every Second of Every Minute of Every Hour is sensitive and beautiful. I’m sorry I missed the concert but I’m glad to have this record of it.